Need some small home advice

butterfly1061July 23, 2006

I just purchased my home and I would like to add something to the front. I've been looking at the "gingerbread" pieces to put at the top of the porch columns. I'd really like to make it look like a "cute, quaint, cottage style". What do you think?

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Not much help here with your outside decorations but wanted to say congratulations on your new home. Its lovelyand I'm sure whatever you decide will only enhance it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 9:00PM
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I think adding gingerbread to your home would be delightful. What about adding gingerbread to the roof line peaks of the garage and the dormers? I'm thinking if it's added there as well as the porch columns it would be more cohesive and look like an intentional part of the design, whereas just at the top of the columns may look a little 'lonely'.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 10:07PM
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I have pretty simple corbels that I ordered from my local lumber/hardware store. But here is a link that is great for the real "gingerbread" pieces.

Marilyn in NM

Here is a link that might be useful: Cumberland Woodcrafts

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 10:08PM
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Great house! I think you could do a LOT to the exterior to achieve the look you want. I found a website that has some great stuff. Not sure how much you want to add, but they have some gable items that are really nice.

Here is a link that might be useful: decorative stuff

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 10:15PM
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OK, here are my comments...

First, consider painting the garage door to the siding color to make it a little less obtrusive. "Gingerbread cottages" generally didn't have two-car garages, so minimizing that "feature" will contribute to the overall effect.

Trimwise, I would keep things fairly simple and small scale - she's a nice little house and if you "tart her up" too much she'll go from nice to silly. :-( If you suggest the "gingerbread cottage" rather than going all-out like you could with a more period-accurate structure, it'll have a better effect. My suggestions:

1) No matter what you do otherwise, place half-sawn (lengthwise) posts against the walls where the two porch railings come up to the wall. This makes for a much more finished look.

2) add what's called a spandrel between the posts. I like the Jenny Lind for your house. Use the brackets that match the spandrel (VW can help you match them) to frame the entry section of the porch, without the spindle section.

3) replace the plain porch-rail balusters with turned ones to coordinate with the style of the spandrel. Check out this picture for inspiration.

4) Gable decorations are going to be harder with that white vent at the top of the garage wall and with how small the upper gables are. I would think about using small fretwork brackets on the upper gables. On the large garage gable, think about painting that vent to the predominant color in the brick so it'll disappear behind the gable decoration. This gable trim would look nice with the spandrel above, I think.

5) Look into having the window in the brick facades finished off with the same width trim as the other windows.

6) Of course, you need a fancy screen door. :-) I think this one would work nicely with your entry door.

7) Spiff up the mailbox to match the house. Maybe put it on a turned post set into a planter trimmed with the same spandrel you used on the porch, or here's a commercially made post you could copy with wooden parts. At the very least make sure the mailbox is plumb. ;-)

My opinions all, and worth every cent you paid for it. (And since GW is no longer a pay site... LOL)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 11:11PM
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I like your house. Personally, I wouldn't go overboard with the gingerbread. I don't think it suits a brick house. I think you could still get a cute cottage-y look just using landscaping...hang a couple of ferns, or add planter boxes with trailing plants to your porch railing, move the crepe myrtle from in front of the window (where it blocks light) and add a window box, etc. Just my vote. :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 4:43AM
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I agree with those who vote for simplicity. Accent with accessories such as window boxes, planters, etc. Gingerbread accents are lovely on houses that have the large porches, window styles, etc. to support them. My opinion is they would stickout rather than accentuate your home.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 10:01AM
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All I would do is put some flower boxes on the upstairs windows, and do some nice planting in front of the porch.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 11:08AM
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FWIW, there is a little brick cottage about five miles from me that is more loaded with gingerbread than the average bakery at Christmas. Period, too - I've seen photos at the historical society and someone's done an amazing job of either preserving it or recreating it. Cute little place, looks like something out of a children's book. So I don't think brick automatically negates gingerbread at all. I took the mental image of that house and scaled the frosting back by about two-thirds, since the OP's house isn't period and lacks the "correct" proportions to really carry off the full monty.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 1:03PM
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Thank you all for your comments and great websites! A couple things I forgot to mention. 1) I can't change the mailbox post as I live in a HOA and a lot of things must be uniform including the mailbox (which I hate black). 2) The dormer windows are only cosmetic and part of the attic. I have no access to them except from the outside. I love the idea of flower boxes, but where can I put them? The Crepe Myrtle I thought I would keep and trim down a bit. The HOT afternoon sun hits that side of the house and I need some sort of shade. Think that would work if I trimmed it for it to bush out more? I plan on doing my flower beds (in front of the porch & in front of the myrtle)next spring and I've been looking around the forums for ideas for flowers. I love my front door, but I'd like to paint it dk green (it's black right now). How about a bistro set on the porch or rocker? Again, thanks for all the ideas/comments. I love this forum!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 2:42PM
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You could hang window boxes from the rail of your front porch! I think it would look lovely with two or three boxes across the front of the porch. I'd add one hanging plant for another layer.
Another inexpensive idea is to put a vine across the top of the porch instead of gingerbread. I'd use wires strung across to the porch, then down the column. A few eye hooks firmly in the wood to attach will keep holes to a minium. In that case I would not use window boxes.
Also, to keep a more informal look I'd use a glider or some other less formal (non-bistro set) furniture on the porch with lovely overstuffed pillows and a table. If you've seen Diana's pictures, you'll know what I mean. It's so cozy looking. I do wish we had more comfy porch sofas (although I like the look of ours)...the vinyl covering is handy for cats, but not so cozey for peoples.
Cute home!


    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 5:36PM
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I'd love to see Diana's pictures. Know where they are? or if you see this Diana, can you post a link? I like the idea of the flower boxes on the porch rail. Could I still do the flower beds below it too? I have a back patio and I hope to have someone build a cover so I can sit without getting sunburned. I would like to do wicker furniture and planters with a Trumpet Vine along with hanging baskets.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 8:21PM
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I was driving home yesterday and saw a house similar to yours. They had added details to create the home to look similar to a carriage house. The garage had large black iron hinges added, making it look like the doors swung open rather than door going up. I need to drive past it again and look at what other things they did to make this so charming. The garage idea has me ready to do same. Although actual hinges can't be added due to working mechanisms....painting them on may work and if not can change back with little cost involved.

I was also in an HOA a few years back, will they allow you to add much of anything? Mine wouldn't even let you change the front yard and the colors were a given for the life of the house. All was required by the city when they built the area. Your house has a charm with ability to do so many to watch what you come up with.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 7:17AM
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You can do flowerboxes on the railing and do a bed below. That would look great!

Shame you can't access those upper windows...that'd be a fun pop of color. but oh well!

Don't worry about the mail box. your home is so charming, I didn't even notice it in the picture, I had to go back and look!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 12:24PM
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Hi butterfly1061, congrats on moving into your new home. I bet you're excited to give it your own special touches. : )

I cast my my vote for simplicity, too, and agree with Pamela that the gingerbread on the porch would probably be too much of a feature for your more traditionally styled home. You'd have to do way more to the rest of the structure, and that can get very expensive. But there's still lots you can do to "cottage up" (my term) your lovely home. GGG has some great suggestions, as are the window box/hanging basket ideas. And landscaping that will include curved beds with a variety of shrubs and perennials will go a long way in giving you the cottage look you desire.

As for the crape myrtle, I'd move it out a bit, but perhaps think about putting a larger shade tree further out that will eventually give you the shade you need. The crape myrtle is just a little too close to the foundation and is blocking the view of your pretty windows. Crapes can be kept small, however, with careful pruning. I have four and just love them when their natural multi-branched habit is allowed to grow. I'd wait until fall or next spring to move it, though. They're tough, drought resistant trees but the summer heat will take a toll on such a large specimen as yours if it is moved now. For now you can just concentrate on making your beds larger and adding compost, if needed (it usually is).

Btw, what zone are you in? You might want to check out the Cottage gardens forum. Quite a few of us from here hang out there, as well. Trust me, you'll get loads of ideas to cottage up your place. And our gallery over there is one of the busiest. Lots of inspiration so take a look when you can. Maybe homemaker will come along with her software and show you what you can do. She uses something that is very inexpensive but can really help to visualize what your landscaping will look like. Do a search and you'll come up with her threads and all the folks she has helped.

Here's a link to my pics. The porch pics are mixed in with the garden pics. I have a neo-farmhouse/cottage. We built it 16 yrs. ago and are still busy doing the cottage thing to it. If you click on the main page (angelcub) then outdoor projects, you'll find pics of the deck and pergola we built on the back of the house last summer. I need to take new pics since I've added more decorative stuff. Soon - when it cools off! We are having a major heat wave out here.

Emagineer, that carriage house look is so charming. Maybe you can sneak a pic of it to us? ; )


Here is a link that might be useful: porch & garden pics

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 12:41PM
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Thank You for your suggestions. I took a peek at your pictures and your house is gorgeous! Makes me think of a Bed & Breakfast - cozy. Any vacancy for vacationers? haha!

I had thought about removing the crepe myrtle because to the right in my yard is a small oak tree that will eventually give me shade from the sun. I've heard it's hard to prevent crepe myrtles from growing where they have taken root, but I'm willing to try. I'm in zone 8 - Georgia. I've taken some notes about some flowers I really like, but I do need some help in planning a landscape (with limited funds).

I see you quilt. I sew & my mother quilts - very good I might add. When the Olympics were here, she made one of the quilts given to each country and they made a book with all of them listed (The Olympic Games Quilts). Her's was sent to Sierra Leone's National Olympic Committee. She made a Log Cabin Schoolhouse pattern. Appropriate since she's been teaching for almost 35 yrs. When she retires next summer, I hope she will finish some of her projects.

Emagineer - The houses in my s/d are all different so my neighbors house doesn't look like mine. I noticed that a few houses have the black iron hinged look on the gararge. It's really different. Like Diana, I'd love to see a picture of the one near you.

Lauren - It is ashame I can't access the dormer windows, although there's plenty of room in the attic to build a bonus room :) Maybe someday.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 7:50PM
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Now that I wrote about the carriage house...I need to go find it again. I take different routes home to see all the little houses, should make it a point to write down where they are...or time to keep my camera in the car....gads, I'm starting to talk to myself. Yes, will post a pic when found.

Dianna, I love the arbor/fence/gate. Tis what I want my front yard to be....may have to get the arbor this week, most outdoor items are getting in short supply and Lowes has a wonderful big arbor liked. Can just to have it ready for when I'm out of moving chaos. My little house deserves the look you have. Am "green" with envy, "can't wait" is creeping in with so many ideas on this forum.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 9:04AM
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